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There are 3 black & white printable coloring and pattern pages associated with this theme. Use your BACK button to return to this page.

circus elephantWhen you encourage youngsters to create their own classroom circus with these enjoyable preschool and kindergarten learning activities, you'll want to become the ringmaster and  say, "Boys and girls, children of all ages, step right up to the greatest classroom circus on earth!"

circus song   Circus Song
(Tune:  I've Been Working on the Railroad)
I was walking through the circus,
Happy as can be.

I was walking through the circus,
Just to see what I can see.

I can see the clown laughing.
I can see the elephant, too.
I can see the lion sleeping.
Look out! He sees you.

circus craft activity     Paper Plate Lions
During this early childhood craft activity by Aleena M., children use fine motor and creative skills. 

Materials: Paper plates, orange, yellow, brown and red yarn, yellow cotton balls, markers, crayons, glue and construction paper. 

Description: Use the paper plate as the lions head. Glue yellow cotton balls or 
colored yarn all around the paper plate for the lion's mane. Have the children 
draw and color the face of the lion. Cut out ears from construction paper and 
glue them to the top of the paper plate. If desired, cut out the eyes of the 
lion, to make a mask! 

Comments: The children loved the activity and learned about lions. This works 
great with a Circus theme.

circus craft activity  Circus Masks
Preschoolers use fine motor and creative skills during the craft activity by Erika P. who says, "The children love this activity.  It helps the bashful ones, because they can hide their faces".

Materials: Patterns of animals faces, crayons or markers and large tongue depressors.

Description: I read several books about the circus throughout the week.  The 
children pick what animal they would like to be for our circus.  Then they color
their picture and we put them on the tongue depressors, to make a mask. At the end of the week, we have a circus.  The children used their masks and perform tricks in the center "ring" which is made of blocks.

Gayle's storybook suggestion:
The Man on the Flying Trapeze: The Circus Life of Emmett Kelly, Sr.
by Robert Quackenbush.

Cooking: Clown Face Sandwiches
Foster good nutrition and independence and verbal skills during this preschool cooking experience.

You will need enough of the following ingredients and materials for your class.
Circle cookie cutter
Shredded carrots
Plastid knives
Paper plates

Description: Give each child a piece of bread on a paper plate. With the cookie cutter, cut out a circle in the bread. Have the children spread peanut butter on the circle. Encourage them to make a clown face using the carrots for hair,  raisins for eyes and mouth, and a cherry for a nose. Talk about the parts of a clown's  face. Is the clown happy or sad? Why? What other shapes or figures can  the children make? Eat and enjoy!

Note: Be aware that some children may have peanut allergies, which can be extremely dangerous. For such children, use an appropriate alternate spread.

Finger Play: Five Little Clowns

Five little clowns on the circus floor
One did a somersault; then there were four.

Four little clowns standing on one knee
One fell over backwards; then there were three.

Three little clowns with hair of red and blue
One rode on a elephant; then there were two.

Two little clowns having so much fun
One flew on the trapeze; then there was one.

One little clown in the ring all alone
He stood on a tiger and ate an ice cream cone.

circus craft activity  Create A Circus Train
Youngsters practice shape recognition of squares, circles, rectangles and triangles as they participate in this early childhood project that takes a few days to complete. 

Materials: Colored construction paper cut into rectangles, squares,  triangles, and circles for train parts, and thin paper strips for tracks. Pictures of trains, animals, and clowns. Large sheets of background paper, paste or glue sticks and scissors.

Description: Discuss the shapes that make up different types of train cars, (engine,
caboose, freight, coach) and what animals and people ride on the circus train. Provide enough shapes for children to make up several train cars. Have the children choose their own train layouts, and glue to background  paper. Paste the pictures of animals and clowns on the cars. Draw connecting  lines between the engine and cars.

           1.   Use larger shapes and have children work as teams, each team
              making one car for the class train. Display completed train as a mural on
              the wall.

            2.  Make train cars out of shoe boxes. Stiff cardboard wheels may be
              attached to an axle made from straws, dowels, etc. Decorate the cars and
              connect with pipe cleaners. Children may put animals and people (small
              stuffed animals or dolls) in the cars, and take turns pulling the train. 

            3.  Have children form a human train by lining up and hooking elbows.
                Move around the room while playing a recording of the song
                  I've Been  Working On The Railroad or saying the rhyme:
                               "Engine, engine, number nine
                                Running down Chicago line
                                Running east, running west,
                                Running through the cuckoo's nest."

Chant: Shapes Circus Style
Floy F. offers this rhyme saying, "Open up your circus act by teaching youngsters this call and response chant. When students are familiar with this activity, invite a child to recite your lines and lead the group in the chant".

Lions, Tigers, Bears!
Teacher:    Elephants, ponies and clowns!
Students:   At the circus!
Teacher:    Acrobats flip up and down!
Students:   At the circus!

Teacher:    Lions, tigers and bears!
Students:   At the circus!
Teacher:    Triangles, circles and squares!
Students:   At the circus!

Teacher:    Cotton candy and capes!
Students:   At the circus!
Teachers:   Let's find some wonderful shapes!
Students:   At the circus!

circus tent   Learning Shapes Circus Style
Young children discover the different shapes that are in circus pictures and sort them during this early childhood activity by Floy F.

Materials: Pictures of circus like things with lots of shapes (coloring book picture patterns of circus objects work fine too),  3 small hoops for circus rings, or yarn.

Description: Challenge your little ones to spy all the different shapes at the 
circus with this center idea. In advance, use a photocopier to make copies of 
the pictures or coloring book picture patterns. Color the patterns. Laminate the pictures and cut out each one.

Set the pictures in the center along with three hoops to represent circus rings. Or use lengths of yarn to create the rings. Invite each child to find the shape in each 
picture and then sort the pictures into the rings by shape.

circus tent Circus Bingo
Jennafer W. offers this teacher made game idea that can be use to develop classification skills as children match pictures and associate pictures with words.

Materials: Teacher made Circus Bingo Cards (with different circus appropriate pictures), covers for cards, and a bag full of circus pictures that match the ones on cards.

Description: Teachers make Circus Bingo cards with nine places (squares).
In each square, draw or paste a picture relating to the circus. Design each card with some of the same pictures and some pictures that none of the rest have.

Children are handed a Circus Bingo card and the teacher picks a picture from a bag and shows it to the children as well as identifying the picture by the name. 
               For example, "This is a circus tent".
The children look on their card and cover the appropriate match. Play until all the cards are full.

elephant march   Elephant March
Preschool and kindergarten children express creativity through movement as they have fun mimicking the actions of elephants.

Materials: Marching music (Sousa marches work well).

Description: Children line up and march in a circle. One child acts as the leader, he or she calls out an action. (The teacher is the first leader and sets the pattern.) All members of the group perform that action until another action is called out. Children mimic the movements of the leader as they march. Explain the activity to children a little in advance, so they have  time to think about original movements.

Ideas for actions include:
Big, long trunk:      Raise one arm forward, looking for peanuts.

Big, floppy ears:    Children put hands on head and flap elbows up and  down.

Long, white tusks:  Children hold hands near mouths, pointing with index fingers as

Trunks hold tails:   Children join hands in trunk-to-tail fashion.

Pounding feet:       Children try to stomp their feet in time as they march.

Extension: Pick other animals or circus characters to  mimic. Change directions of movement in the circle, or make figure eight  patterns around the room.

elephant song  Three Big Elephants Song
(Improvise a tune)
Three big elephants
Oh, what a sight!

Swinging their trunks
From left to right!

Two are followers,
And one is the king.

They all walk around
In the circus ring.

There are lots more elephant rhymes in the Animal Rhyme Theme.

circus art activity     Painting Like An Elephant
Children use their creative skills and discover a different way to paint during this preschool art activity from Inge A.

Materials: Paintbrush, paint and paper.

Description: Ask children to pretend they are elephants, painting with their trunk.   They are able to discover how it feels to use a different part of their body to perform a familiar task.  The children will be painting using their mouth to hold the paintbrush as if it were a elephant's trunk.  

circus clown make-up  2 Classic Make-Up Recipes

E-Z Face Paint Recipe

1  tsp. corn starch
½ tsp. water
½ tsp. cold cream
Food coloring

Directions: Teachers stir together starch and cold cream until well blended. Add water and stir, then add food coloring. Use a clean small paint brush to paint designs on children's  faces. Removes with soap and water and stores well in an airtight container.

Classic Clown Make-up
for One or More 

2 tsp. white shortening
5 tsp. corn starch
1 tsp. white all purpose flour
Glycerin as directed
Food coloring as desired

Directions:  Teachers prepare this classic clown make-up by using a rubber spatula to blend the first three ingredients on a plate until a smooth paste is formed.
Next, add 3 or 4 drops of glycerin for a creamy consistency. This yields enough to complete a child's face. If you need more make-up, make the amount you will  need before adding the coloring one drop at a time, blending after each drop until you have the desired shade. Increase the amount of ingredients according to the number of children who will be clowns. Try to make only small amounts at a time.

Comments: When applying the make up to the face you will have better results if you stroke in one direction. For easy removal use shortening, cold cream or  baby oil.

Circus Game
Amanda suggests this teacher made counting and number recognition game for your circus theme.

Materials: 20 teacher made clowns.

Description: Have 10 clowns with numbers written on them and another 10 clowns 
with the corresponding amount of dots on their stomach and ask the children to
match the numbers to the quantities.

Circus Snack Idea: "Clown Hats"
From Pam and Brenda comes this delicious way to end your Circus Theme.

Materials: Vanilla ice cream, sugar cones, M & M candies, chocolate chips, donuts 
cut in half.

Description: Teachers cut donuts in half and place on small plate. Then take a scoop 
of ice cream and place on top of the donut. Children can add the M & M candies and the chocolate chips to make the eyes and nose. Place a sugar cone on top of the  ice cream and this will make the clown's hat. VERY CUTE!

Home Connection Activity      Parent Involvement: "Classroom Circus Fun"
Children create their own classroom circus with the help of Tammy and parents.

Materials: Each child puts together a costume at home with parents and brings it to school on the day of our circus.

Description: We do the circus theme for the whole month.  At the end of the 
month my class puts on a circus for the younger classes.  We have a ringleader 
who comes out with a microphone & introduces all of the performers.  We have a 
juggler, tightrope walker, lion tamer, a couple of little girls dance and sing songs.  We serve popcorn and some cotton candy!

Comments: We video tape our circus to show to the parents at open house!

At the Circus Week
Enhance your circus curriculum activities with this early childhood lesson plan by Leah E. who says the aim is, "To learn about the animals and people who take part in the circus and to work on gross motor activity."

 Materials: Jump rope "tight rope", popcorn popper - popcorn,
 swing set, face paints for clown faces, adult clothing for clown clothes, clown picture, laces, for lacing game, straws and pipe cleaners - acrobats.

Description: For circus week we read books about the circus including
Clifford the Big Red Dog at the Circus and  Rugrats at the Circus.
We also watch the Barney movie.

For Physical activities we  walk the "tightrope" by stretching a
jump rope on the floor and try to walk across it.  We walk like elephants, we do somersaults (outside), we swing on the swing set (trapeze).

For fine motor development we lace clown heads.

For science we learn about gravity and how it relates to the circus performers. We do a gravity experiment with a scarf, a coin, and a rock to see if they fall slowly, or quickly or the same.

For art the children paint clowns, big tops etc.

For social we dress up like clowns, and paint our faces like clowns.

Dramatic Play: We learn about the animals in the circus and wear our lion, tiger, horse, and monkey masks. I let the children free play with the animal figures and do their own circus.  We use our animal puppets for a circus with our dolls.

Cooking: We make popcorn.
On friday we eat circus food after the children put on their own circus.
Comments: I usually try to do this about a week before the circus comes to town.

Related Theme: Popcorn  Fun for Everyone!



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